Summary: The church must restore the sense of deep and loving fellowship. The church must come together in unity once again.
RELIVING PENTECOST: THE CHURCH COMMUNITY
THEME: THE CHURCH BECOMES A SPECIAL COMMUNITY FOR GOD’S PEOPLE.
TEXT: ACTS 2:42-47
At the end of the Civil War in Richmond, Virginia, on the Sunday after the surrender, a worship service was held in one of the historic church buildings in the city. It was an old church building that had a balcony where the slaves of the owners had sat for many years, with their masters and their families sitting downstairs. The practice in this church had been to have two calls for the Lord’s Supper, one first for the whites downstairs, and then one for the slaves upstairs. But on this given Sunday at the first call to communion an older black man, a former slave, began down the central aisle, right after the call. Naturally enough there was surprise and shock downstairs, but what was even more of a shock was when an elderly, white, bearded gentleman got up, hooked his arm in the arm of the former slave, and they went forward and took the Lord’s Supper together. That man was Robert E. Lee. There was forgiveness and healing and reunion around the Lord’s Supper table. On that day, in that building, for the first time, the people were a church. It was a church.
The idea of church in modern culture is not a positive one. There are books about people leaving church to practice the faith on their own. There are thousands of people who have rejected the church because of the behavior of Christians within the church. The modern church does not have a positive reputation in society. People want a relationship with Jesus but do not want to be part of the church. People have felt rejected, mistreated, used, and abused by local congregations. Instead of the church being a community of God’s people, the church has ransomed the divine role into corrupt substitutes. Instead of the church beaming acceptance, love, grace, and joy into the world, the prevalent message that is communicated is one of jealousy, rejection, jockeying, and intolerance. The original intention of the church seems to be clouded to the present world. The only way that the church will restore the power of Pentecost is for the church to go back to the original intent of the body of Christ. It must restore the sense of community that is found within the church. The sense of worship, fellowship, sharing, and love must be restored in the church of Christ.
On the day of Pentecost, after the people were saved from their sins, and the sin of putting the Son of God to death, the people were added to the church. Those added to the church formed a community of like minded individuals that were interesting in growing deeper in Christianity. It was a group from a common Lord and mission. The picture that is presented in Acts, is one for all ages to imitate. If the present church could go back to the ancient passion of the early church, the power of Pentecost would be restored for this generation.
Unlike some of the modern imagines, the ancient image of the church is one of beauty. Acts 2:42-47 paints the picture of those freshly saved Christians. “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
I am not sure about you, but this picture seems different from the picture of the church today. The picture of the church today does not seem to fit this description. There seems to be some intense unity among the new Christians. Everyone seemed to be pulled together. Whatever background, whatever past, whatever color, whatever former views, all the people become one in Christ. There was a unity of purpose within the early church. The people were united through the instruction of the Apostle’s teaching. It seemed that the people could not get enough of the word of the Lord. There was no New Testament to read, but the inspired message was coming to the Apostles. There was a genuine hunger for the message of the Lord.
There was also fellowship. The church was spending time together with one another. You cannot forge relationships with people you do not spend time with. We cannot have strong bonds with one another with those we never see. Fellowship is not a nervous time. It is a not a time of covering up and putting on a fake happy smile. It is a time of being known and knowing. Church seems to have lost this sense. We essential cover up ourselves at church because if people really knew who we were, they would reject us. Fellowship is accepting embrace of one another. The people were worshipping together, they were partaking of the Lord’s Supper together, and the people were eating together. There seems to be a true bond in a relationship. Through the power of Christ, through the common confession that Jesus is Lord, it is a unifying true. It brings people together. The people, who would never have had contact before, are now one in Christ. And these people are sharing in relationship with each other.